By Mike Lorge, Managing Director of Sage Business Solutions.
One of the most exciting things about technology is its power to divide opinion. Whether it’s the sustainability of wearables or the iPhone versus the Galaxy, everyone has a view. And as technology evolves and beds into people’s lives, so people’s views evolve.
For some people, mobile technology is changing the way they live their lives for the better, liberating them at work and at home. For others, it’s the complete opposite – they feel like they can’t escape their mobile and that technology is in charge.
Whichever side of the debate you sit on, one thing is clear – mobile technology is completely changing how small and medium-sized businesses operate. Today an estimated 4.5 billion of us worldwide are using a mobile phone, of which about 2 billion are smartphones.
At Sage, we believe that mobility is a disruptive force for good. It helps balance your life, it connects you with customers and it can put you in control of your business.
According to our latest Sage Business Index, SMEs embracing mobile working tend to come from emerging economies, such as Brazil, South Africa and Malaysia. Cheap smartphones – some less than $50 – are flooding emerging markets, leapfrogging cost and infrastructure barriers to connect a new generation of consumers and businesses to the Internet.
However, SME leaders in established economies such as France, Germany and the UK fear that the lines between their business and personal lives are becoming blurred. In Australia we sit pretty much in the middle, with 47% thinking that mobile business has had a positive effect on their work/life balance while 21% believe it has had a negative effect.
By failing to take advantage of new ways of working, businesses in the developed world risk missing a huge opportunity.
We believe that mobile technology should enable your business, not disable your life. Business owners have to make sure they are the boss, and not be commandeered by the demands of their smartphone or tablet. Just because it’s possible to work from anywhere doesn’t mean that you have to. Mobile provides the flexibility to spend more time with your family, doing the things you want to do, and helping to balance your life – including switching off emails at the dinner table.
The truth is that if you get the balance right, the rewards are great.
Mobile technology is helping business leaders to run smoother operations, drive innovation and access new markets. New productivity apps, for instance, are transforming how businesses do what they do, and the speed with which they do it. The rise of eCommerce is being accelerated by people shopping on the move. This change has been fuelled by mobility and represents a huge opportunity for small businesses to sell to customers wherever they are.
Mobile has come of age. It’s not an emerging trend, it’s a live reality. Entrepreneurs that have embraced this change are enjoying the rewards, at work and at home, and they’ve got happier customers and stronger businesses as a result.
Those that haven’t, now risk being left behind.